The competition is pretty much the same as it was nearly two centuries ago. Contestants tap the ends of their eggs against another contestant’s egg. When one egg cracks, the losing contestant turns the egg over and begins tapping with that side until there is another crack.
There are still a few egg farmers who try to produce hard eggs for the contest. Farmers like Jerry Peters alway seem to have very hard eggs. Rumor has it that he is giving his hardest eggs to his children and grandchildren. Others say Jerry is just too competitive to ever quit. Others just wonder what his secrets are that make his hens lay such hard eggs.
Some of those who don’t farm will purchase a supply from egg farmers, with a debate about which regions produce hard eggs. Others simply leave their fate to chance and buy their eggs in the grocery store.
All the eggs are turned into Easter eggs. They are hard boiled and dyed. Some use modern dyes, while others use old-fashioned methods like using onion hulls for a brown color.
It takes a lot of preparation. There are four separate contests, based on age of the competitors, The adult contest allows each contestant to fight with six dozen eggs.
All of the contests take place in Norman Peters’ backyard at 347 Peters Hollow Road. The first contest will begin around 1:30 p.m. It is for children from newborns to 3 years old. They are equipped with a dozen eggs each, and usually a mommy to help them tap.
The competitors in the second contest are more independent. It is for children from 4-7 and they also will fight with one dozen eggs.
The third contest is for children 8-12 and they are armed with two dozen eggs.
After all the children’s contests are over, it is time for the main event. Adults gather in a ring of lawn chairs, their six dozen eggs at their feet. Judges will proceed around the circle, watching as each contestant taps eggs against a neighbor’s eggs.
The competition is slow at first, with a lot of eggs to be cracked. Finally, the unluckiest find they have no more uncracked eggs and have to withdraw. The circle begins to get smaller and tighter and the action picks up.
Finally, there are only three are four left in the circle and the untracked eggs quickly dwindle. Last year there was a perfect ending, with only one uncracked egg remaining. Mike Scott captured the championship when his last remaining egg cracked the last egg held by Matthew Baird.
The victory was the sixth for Scott, a computer teacher in the Unicoi County School District. He has been competing in the Peters Hollow Egg Fight since he was a senior in high school in 1975.
With a contest that has been going on so long, there are contingencies and rules. Norman Peters said the rules are strict on the type of eggs allowed. “No buzzard eggs, no guinea eggs, no frozen eggs and no turkey eggs, just chicken eggs,” he said.
There is also a drawing to determine who sits where. That is necessary because no one wants to sit close to Jerry Peters, his children and grandchildren because their hard eggs will quickly cut into their neighbors’ six dozen.
There is also a plan for a rainy afternoon. Everyone moves down the hollow to the Stoney Creek Volunteer Fire Department, where the bays are always ready to accept an egg fight circle on a bad weather day.
So, if you find your Easter just a little too quiet, just head up the Stoney Creek Highway until you reach the Fire Department on the right. Make a right turn and head up the hollow until reach Norman Peters’ home. Then follow the sound of tapping and laughing and cheering to the oldest and friendliest competition in Carter County.